When I was eleven years old (that’s around 15 years ago now…), I sent an email to my dad. Like most things I did online during that time period, I’m quite ashamed of it. I was on AIM, email, and into posting blogs about anything and everything. I had pretty much free reign on the internet (which now, looking back at it, I would never allow for my kids at that age). I had just created my first (of many; the others were role playing to my shame) Xangas. That’s right, Xanga. This is pre-Myspace. I decided (as I often do, sometimed even today) to promote my web page, so I chain emailed it to all my (7) contacts. I wrote one specifically for my dad. I thought he’d be proud of it because of its Christian context. Here’s what I wrote to him 15 years ago as an eleven-year-old:

hello father…
 this iz my web site http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=soccerdude41598 cheak it out
merry christmas… … ElfJoy To The World Elf
As you can tell by the cheesy GIFs and the spelling, this was 15 years ago (The site no longer works, by the way… thankfully). The response I got from my dad really annoyed me. I mean really annoyed me. I thought he would say something like “great job!” or “wow, you did all that?” But of course, I got the complete opposite: constructive criticism. At the time I brushed it aside, rather annoyed. He tried to correct my spelling on my blog and in my email. Here was my response:
dad dont worry thats how everybody spells online so im not the only 1 doing that i will do it right if u really want me to.
I have no idea why I signed emails in such a manner, but then again, I was eleven. I just recently found this email. As soon as I reread it, my eyes opened wide and a lump started to form in my throat. It was as if I was reading it for the first time from a whole new perspective. I wish I had listened. I wish I could go back and honor my parents better. But I can’t do either of those things. I can only hope Christ will continue to form me into His image. Here’s what my dad had to say, maybe you can find his advice useful as well:

The site looks like fun Jake. 
I must speak from a Dad’s point of view however. Be careful on entering too much personal information. Don’t communicate with anyone that you can’t confirm their identity.

 Next subject: Your writing will come easier in the future if you take the pains now to insure your spelling and grammar are correct. When you misspell words as well as make other grammatical errors, it a distraction to your reader. Your words lose their.e punch. A good writer is a communicator that takes the reader by the hand and leads him down the path of the writer’s choosing. When there are mistakes in that writing, the reader’s mind begins to wander and you no longer have him captured in the adventure. You have the ability to wrap people around your pen and have them practically believing what you are writing. When words are misspelled, you begin to lose your credibility. They think, “Boy! If this writer can’t even spell, then why should I believe what he is saying. He probably has more mistakes, too. If he has more wrong, the ending may not even make sense. Why should I even waste my time reading this? This picture on the front of the book doesn’t even look quite right. He probably doesn’t have much of an education. I wonder what his wife, family and friends think or say about his writing. He must not be very passionate about his writing. I’ll bet he is the type that drives too fast and pulls out in front of people. Drives? Oh,  I need to stop and get gas on the way to the store. I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping. Let’s see what was it I was going to get? Oh yeah! It was that CD for dad that I almost forgot about and that book for my wife – I can’t forget that. Book? Oh yeah, I was reading. Where did I leave off? Oh, it was with that misspelled word.”

Look what has happened. I have lead you down a whole new path from talking about some writer to a bunch of gibberish about going Christmas shopping. You have the power, Jake, to be a good writer. Use it. Go through the pains now and make it easier on yourself in the future. Practice doing things the right way. Don’t be complacent and tell yourself you know the right way but choose not to do it cause it’s just easier not to do it the right way. Fight Jake. Struggle and make it right the first time all the time. If it is not right then, straighten it out when you proof read.

 Story telling is a gift. All gifts take work to sharpen and make them better. Be the best you can. If not for yourself, do it for your Lord in heaven. Whatever you do is a reflection on Him. Make Him proud. When others see you, then they will see him through you and isn’t that, after all, what He wants? It may be your destiny to just save one soul your whole life. By letting God shine through you in all you do, may be that path for them.  Bless God Jake and He will bless you.

I Love you, Dear ‘ol Dad

P.S. C is always capitalized in Christmas.  Maybe it should even be spelled CHRISTmas.

After reading that, notice my initial response those many years ago. I just shrugged it off with the typical excuse “that’s how everyone does it.” Obviously, that’s not how everyone did it, even then. That’s how my peer group and those I followed did it. Even still today, I’m quite lackadaisical in my proofreading. Writing thrills me, it always has. But proofreading? Not so much…There have been many times I write out a post and publish it before even reading it over again.

This advice, as old as it is, still applies to me today (not to say that advice should necessarily has a time limit in its application). Even still, it is amazing to see the witness my dad had toward me at such a pivotal time in my life. Whether I listened at the time or not, he still tried his best to teach me what I needed to know.

I would implore us all to listen to our fathers, especially the younger we are. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child (Prov. 22:15). I know that even more looking back on my childhood in hindsight (as I’m sure many of us do). May we pray to the Lord for wisdom, but not presume he has granted the request. And one of the aspects of this wisdom to to listen to our fathers.